Less than six weeks remains before the pitchers and catchers report, but trade talks in the MLB certainly haven't stalled. Though the winter meetings didn't bring the fire fans were hoping for, the remainder of the offseason could still see big-name players donning new jerseys before the season starts.
While the sweepstakes for Masahiro Tanaka remains the biggest headline in baseball, there is no shortage of big names reportedly being shopped around.
Players such as Brett Gardner and David Price weren't moved during the winter meetings and might not be unless the deal is right. With all of this in mind, here are the latest rumors about some of the biggest names on the trading block.
Putz Not Staying Put?
After acquiring closer Addison Reed from the Chicago White Sox, the Arizona Diamondbacks now have a potential closer for only $500,000 this season. With J.J. Putz still on the payroll at $7 million this season, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that the D-Backs could be looking to move the 36-year-old.
To make the trade happen, Arizona would need to find a suitor that has a player with a similar contract. One possibility Rosenthal threw out there was a trade for Ichiro Suzuki, who is earning $6.5 million in 2014.
With the loss of Mariano Rivera last season, the Yankees could use an insurance policy for David Robertson if they plan to more forward with him as the closer. Another team to look at could be the Boston Red Sox, who have Jonny Gomes making $5 million this season as a backup outfielder.
Putz appeared in 40 games last season and recorded only six saves with the Diamondbacks. But he has experience as a closer and has posted an ERA below 3.00 in his last four seasons.
While Putz could be staying put in Arizona, the addition of Carlos Beltran in New York could eventually lead Suzuki to the Diamondbacks if Rosenthal is correct.
Gardner Gonna Go?
Over the last few weeks, the Yankees have been stuck in the middle of the Tanaka talks and have stayed out of any trade rumors. And while rumors continue to swirl around Brett Gardner, he has remained in the pinstripes throughout the offseason.
As Peter Gammons of MLB.com is reporting in Gammons Daily, it looks like Gardner might not be moved unless there is an offer for a starting pitcher. Gammons provided a quote from Yankees general manager and senior vice president Brian Cashman on Gardner.
"Brett is one of the toughest players in the game, an incredible competitor," Cashman said. "We feel very strongly about him and his role as a leader and catalyst."
Here's the tricky part of what Cashman is trying to say: There aren't many quality starting pitchers on the market this late in the offseason, and with the Yankees eagerly pursuing Tanaka, landing him might make a deal even more unlikely.
The only thing not really being talked about is the likelihood of an injury for either Beltran or Jacoby Ellsbury. While Beltran has played in 140 games or more in his last three seasons, he played in a total of 145 for the New York Mets during the 2009-10 seasons. As for Ellsbury, he participated in just 18 games in 2010 and 74 in 2012 due to injuries.
But making a deal at this time for Gardner would make sense. The signings of Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury make for a crowded outfield, with both Gardner and Suzuki currently on the outside looking in.
Price Isn't Right Yet
David Price has been a hot name on the trade market this offseason. The only problem is that he hasn't gone anywhere yet.
Over the duration of the winter meetings and the weeks leading up to them, Price's name was thrown around with several teams as trade targets. Then, he spurned the Seattle Mariners, according to Rosenthal, and the talks stalled for a while.
Now, according to Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune, the Tampa Bay Rays are considering keeping Price on the roster for the 2014 season. Mooney provides a little insight into the situation:
The Rays will never get a better return for Price than they will if they trade him now.
Yet the front office has maintained it can make it work in 2014 with Price, and on Friday executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the 2014 payroll projects to be a record high. One assumes it can only top the $72.8 million payroll of 2010 if it includes Price.
Last offseason, the Rays made a blockbuster trade, sending James Shields to the Kansas City Royals for slugger Wil Myers. Shields was due a contract in two seasons, and Tampa Bay unloaded him for Myers, who was named the 2013 Rookie of the Year.
This is what the Rays do. They almost always trade off valuable assets who are due huge contracts for young players who are less costly. But this time, it looks like they might not move forward with trading the former Cy Young Award winner.
With a pitching rotation that already includes Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Archer, Price might once again be at the top of the rotation for 2014.
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